By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief
Please remember to mark your calendars for the March 7 Municipal Primary Election if you live in the City of St. Louis. Topping the ballot will be the selection of mayoral candidates to succeed Mayor Slay. Also on the ballot will be the comptroller, Proposition S, and numerous contested primaries for aldermen.
The most notable race in Tuesday’s primary election is the race for mayor. The current mayor, Francis Slay, was elected in 2001 and was the first St. Louis mayor to be elected four consecutive terms. On April 8 he announced he would not be seeking another term in office. Thus, numerous candidates began applying for the position.
Twelve candidates filed to replace the Democratic mayor. There are seven Democrats running: Antonio French, Lewis Reed, Jeffrey Boyd, Tishaura Jones, Lyda Krewson, Bill Haas, and Jimmie Matthews. There are three Republicans running: Andy Karandzieff, Jim Osher, and Andrew Jones. The Libertarian Party candidate is Robb Cunningham, and the Green Party candidate is Jonathan McFarland.
Antonio French, alderman from Ward 21, received national attention for his social media presence during the fall of 2014 in Ferguson. In 2012, French founded the North Campus. This initiative was modeled after the New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone and asks schools to provide mentoring and after-school tutoring to low-income children. Last October, former Governor Jay Nixon gave North Campus a $500,000 federal grant to expand math and science tutoring services. The money came with stipulations that the Missouri Department of Social Services and the University of Missouri–St. Louis monitor the grant. This partnership gave UMSL students a place to volunteer their time and gain hands-on experience. French’s main focus in his campaign is the economic disparity in St. Louis, commonly referred to as the Delmar Divide.
The French campaign told The Current why he is the best choice in the campaign. “We believe the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said it best, ‘The March 7 mayoral primaries offer St. Louisans a basic choice: Maintain an unacceptable status quo or take a chance on a substantially new direction. Democratic voters’ best option to put our city on a better course is to choose 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French. … French, 39, stands out by far among the top tier of candidates for the energy and leadership qualities St. Louisans should demand in their next mayor.’”
Lewis Reed is the Board of Alderman’s current president and was the first African-American elected to that position in 2007. Reed passed legislation to create St. Louis’ first dog park in St. Louis. Prior to being president, Reed served as Alderman for the 6th Ward for eight years and was the first African-American alderman for that ward elected in 1999. Reed ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2013 against Slay. Reed is promising to reduce the crime rate in the city by 50 percent within the first two years in office and touts his experience as a member of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (E&A) as President of the Board of Aldermen. The Board of E&A makes major policy and budgeting decisions and is comprised of the mayor, board president, and comptroller.
Jeffrey L. Boyd is the alderman for Ward 22. He is a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Army and retired as a Master Sergeant in 2005. Representing a ward that experiences a high rate of crime, he believes the focus should be on police training and employing de-escalation tactics, as well as rebuilding neighborhoods. He says that if jobs and opportunity are brought into an area that crime rates should go down.
Boyd lost a young nephew, Rashad Farmer, to gun violence in the city, and a video that went viral of the alderman deploring gun violence was seen as a powerful plea to end such senseless murders. The alderman has been arrested himself for entering the scene where a friend had been gunned down and once for filming the police. While Boyd says he supports the police, he also believes his own experiences demonstrate that complaints mostly by African American males of being harassed are justified and believes more training is needed. He has also cited the disparity in police tactics and presence, noting that downtown and in the central corridor, there are bicycle patrols so the police can connect more with the neighborhood residents, but not in the wards experiencing greater violence.
Tishaura Jones is a former state representative for District 63, former 8th Ward Democratic committeewoman, and St. Louis City treasurer currently serving her second term. She first ran for an office in 2002, and before that she had a career as an administrator at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Jones’ father, former city comptroller Virvus Jones, ultimately plead guilty to tax evasion and served prison time. While he works on her campaign as a staff member, she defends this decision that she is her own person and should not be in his shadow. Jones is in favor of a citywide plan to establish racial equity, tax incentives on the city’s poorest neighborhoods, and a more data-driven crime strategy to keep nonviolent offenders out of jail through mental health and substance abuse services. Jones has a large following on social media and recently accepted an invitation to meet with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board, but skipped the meeting and sent a letter criticizing the board for being out of touch.
Lyda Krewson has been the alderwoman for Ward 28 since 1997. Krewson is a CPA and the Chief Financial Officer of Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc. As of the last spending reports available prior to deadline, Krewson has raised $576,000 in campaign cash. That is more than twice the amount of her closest competitor. Krewson’s number one focus as mayor would be public safety. Her plan calls for $20 million in new spending to hire 200 more officers and give current officers a pay raise. Krewson’s first husband was killed during a carjacking in front of their home in 1995. She and their young children were in the car at the time. It is one of the motivating factors that led her to run for public office, and two years later she was elected to the Board of Aldermen.
Krewson told The Current why she would be the best candidate. Krewson said, “I’m running for mayor because I love St. Louis. I’ve been the 28th ward alderman for almost 20 years, and in that time I have brought new business and development to my ward, always balancing the interests of business owners and residents. Many thanks to UMSL for my accounting degree – it enabled me to become a CPA and the CFO of an international architecture and design firm based downtown. That mix of experience is important for the chief executive of a city with a billion dollar budget.”
Krewson continued, “For 3 decades I’ve led some of St. Louis’ most important fights. I’ve battled drug companies, tobacco companies and the NRA on behalf of St. Louisans. I think the next mayor should be capable and tough enough to lead the city’s biggest issues – job one is neighborhood safety. I’ll address that through crime prevention measures such as more access to jobs, expanded youth and recreation activities, and alternatives to prosecution and incarceration … There’s no sense in having this job if you’re not going to take on the toughest issues. I will do that as mayor. I will make our neighborhoods safer, attract jobs and create opportunities for every single one of us.”
Bill Haas has been a member of the St. Louis Elected Board of Education for four terms and is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. Haas has, as he describes, a 32-year desire to be in politics. In 1977 Haas got his first taste of politics when he worked for former Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich. Haas ran for school board and the city council in Cleveland before he moved to St. Louis in 1992 and won a $250,000 lottery. He used most of the money to run for circuit attorney, but has also run for the Missouri House four times, Congress four times, mayor four times, lieutenant governor, and city alderman. He lost all those races. Haas is the self-proclaimed “education candidate,” hoping to work on early childhood reading programs and job-readiness initiatives for eighth-graders.
Jimmie Matthews may sound familiar to voters as he ran against Slay four years prior and for other political offices. He was elected alderman in 1985, but in 1988, Matthews became the first alderman to be successfully recalled by the voters. He has been caught up in several controversies, one of which included him allegedly posing as a police officer, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. One of his mayoral goals is unconventional, as he wants slavery reparations for African American residents. He also wants to create a program to give city-owned vacant buildings in poor neighborhoods to local residents, along with grants to renovate them.
St. Louis hasn’t had a Republican mayor since Aloys P. Kaufmann left in 1949, which indicates it will be a very tough race to win after the primary.
Andy Karandzieff is the co-owner of the St. Louis institution Crown Candy Kitchen. Karandzieff filed to run for mayor because he wanted “free publicity” for his business.
Jim Osher owned the old Buster Brown Blue Ribbon shoe factory on Jefferson Avenue before it was taken by the city via eminent domain for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Currently, Jones is businessman in the building-materials industry. Jones believes that St. Louis should strengthen its diversity, through ways such as solving issues surrounding the Delmar Divide.
Andrew Jones is a utility executive and wants the job of the mayor to have more business-like negotiations for the city. He opposes offering tax incentives to businesses at the beginning of negotiations and believes that tax incentives should be last resort moves.
The Libertarian Party candidate is Robb Cunningham, and the Green Party candidate is Jonathan McFarland. They are running unopposed on the primary ballot.
Darlene Green has served as the first African-American woman comptroller for 21 years. As comptroller she is in charge of a $1 billion budget for the City of St. Louis. Green worked as budget director for the city for two years and finance director for the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court for eight years. St. Louis recorded nine consecutive years of multi-million dollar budget surpluses and seven credit rating upgrades since she has been a budget director and comptroller. In 2008 she helped the city gain an A+ credit rating for the first time in 35 years. Last year Green saved taxpayers $10 million and since taking office, has saved taxpayers $100 million through refinancing debt.
Green told The Current why she would be the best candidate for the job. Green said, “This is a critical time for the city when we must make every dollar do more and go further than ever before. I have worked to help the city achieve and maintain an A+ credit rating with Standard and Poors. That stability is one of the things that makes St. Louis an attractive place for new business and growth. I have 21 years of strong fiscal management experience as Comptroller with integrity, accountability, and transparency.”
Alexandra Johnson is an attorney in St. Louis. She is married and a mother of two. Johnson has worked with the St. Louis Tax Assistance Program, Legal Advocates for Eastern Missouri, and the Saint Louis – San Luis Potosí Friendship Committee. Johnson was Parent Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee and is a member of the Families Committed to Diversity group in her children’s schools.
Constituents can go to the St. Louis Board of Election Commisioners (at stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/elections/) to look at a sample ballot for their party.
North Campus by The Current http://thecurrent-online.com/news/gov-nixon-unveils-umsl-partnership-north-county-group-north-campus/
Antonio French’s website- http://www.antoniofrench.com/
Lewis Reed’s website- http://www.lewisreed.com/
Bill Haas’ website- http://votebillhaas.com/
Tishaura Jones’s website- http://tishaura4mayor.com/
Lyda Krewson website- http://www.lydakrewson.com/
Andrew Jones’ website- http://www.andrewjonesformayor.com/
Darlene Green’s website- www.greenforcomptroller.com
Alexandra Johnson’s website- http://alexjohnson4stl.com/home